The CA Teachers Union: The Real Bully on Campus

Bloggers note:  obviously there are good teachers out there, this does not apply to them, I’m directing this at the real life pond scum who have failed our young people for now second school year.

Folks I want to share a statement made by Comrad Gavin Newsom yesterday regarding the re-opening of schools.  This taken directly from KCRA 3, an affiliate of MSNBC mind you, look for the emphasis I place on one word. 

All California schools should reopen when the new academic year begins next fall, though his guidelines remain merely an expectation rather than a mandate.

Facing political pressure and a recall effort, Newsom has said he plans to lift most of California’s coronavirus restrictions June 15 as part of reopening the state to business-as-usual. Earlier this month, he made a similar pronouncement, but many districts and teachers remain reluctant.

‘Reimagine the school year’: Newsom pushes reopening as many California districts resist

The word is “should”, as in optional, not required.  Again, note he will be re-opening most of California mid-June, Disney is already in stages of full re-opening, movie theaters are operational, but not schools.  Mid-June also is smack in the middle of summer; thus, schools are typically not open. If they are, only those who are looking to get ahead, earn AP college credits, or failed a class are required to attend.  Many students are falling behind, some even hopelessly behind.  Virtual meetings work for work meetings, clubs, and certain social gatherings, may have merit but not school. 

I have to hand it to our governor. He and his ilk, along with anti-Trumpers, 90-day guys, and cable watchers, successfully scared everyone into thinking this virus would wipe us all out; well except for the “essential workers, required to show up at an office like me” apparently this virus hop scotches over me.  As a result, teachers have decided to milk the clock as long as they could, even while certain other sectors re-opened.  Please answer, how I am safer at a home improvement store or at a mall than a child would be at school?

You may ask what I know about the latter? I know this much, the UPS guy who delivers to our office told me he dropped off an entire truck load of PPE, think plexiglass, shields, masks, bleach, wipes, etc. at a local elementary school.  Nary a single box has moved or been open for over a month.  Your tax dollars hard at work my friends!  A local charter school group in our hometown still thinks the CDC claims 6 feet is safe in schools, that is false, they now say 3 feet.  Fear not, the charter school system will not adhere to the new guidelines until the EGUSD board tells them too.  Mind you these teachers are not union, and the administration rails against EGUSD constantly.  I guess politics really do make strange bedfellows!

Additionally, the vaccine was made available to this charter school’s teachers 2 months ago, only 5 teachers showed up, the remainder staged a “sick-out” or claimed religious exemptions.  To the latter group, I know of zero Middle Eastern folks teaching there, and the Pope has claimed only the Johnson and Johnson shot violates Catholic beliefs.  It is non-sense.  To the former, I always hear you are sacrificing monetarily to have a career teaching our youth…maybe try doing it?  I heard a statement “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  For some reason you all think that means hit the beach for spring break?

In closing I will say this, you are lucky you own this state. Gavin can’t attack you or he is toast, he knows it, your union leaders know it.  Teachers work about 185 days a year. They start work after most folks are already at their jobs, and then go home far earlier than others begin their trek home each afternoon. The term last in, first out used to be a bad stigma, but you teachers live it daily.  You avoid the vaccine not for any reason other than you do not wish to work.  You half a**ed it all year for the same reasons.   No longer keeping track of truancy or people ditching class, because, well I guess the administration told you not too.  A school year has come and gone, and you have not had to teach in front of your full class.  Fear not the bonuses will flow, and all will be well after you all celebrate graduation.  Congrats on a job well done.

I never wish to hear about your trials and tribulations, or having a tough job ever again. You all quit on the students you are supposed to help.  Just remember this next time you are temped to complain how rough your job is. You forced the young people to work at the grocer, or the fast-food places so you could grab a bite while you were home hiding in place and refusing to work. 

Chief

Why Low Test Scores Are Good for California Schools

Yep, after over a year of Covid shutdowns, California’s public schools are making preparations for standardized testing. The results are supposed to determine funding levels from the federal government. This year’s tests will be given to students with less security measures in place than Lori Loughlin’s daughters taking an SAT test. Most California students taking these tests will be unsupervised by anyone.

In a recent meeting of Elk Grove teachers discussing the topic, the following was announced to all in attendance.

“Whatever kind of shitshow it turns out to be, don’t sweat it and just move on. Relax, give it, and move on. Don’t stress your kids out or yourself out over it. It’s just another hoop we need to jump through for the federal government.”

Translation: this year’s testing results are gonna be a train wreck.

The test results are in on California’s children …

Some more conscientious teachers that I know, were concerned about such a comment. They know the test scores will be lower and think that’s bad because the quality of education over the last year has been abysmal. Some teachers really care that children have been harmed by the Covid restrictions.

My response was something like this:

Yes, the children have suffered due to the panic and isolation thrust upon them. They are suffering mentally and emotionally. It’s not natural for children to grow up without others to play with. They probably are being warped in their development.

But no worries. The good news is that the worse the test scores, the more money the teacher’s unions can get out of California taxpayers. I’m sure Gavin and our legislature will do much “for the children”. It really won’t help children recover from Covidhow do you give restitution to a kid for stealing a year of their already short youth—but the politicians will get facetime on camera saying that redistributing your wealth proved how much we care.

Yet another example of not letting a good crisis go to waste.

Bandwidth Apocalypse

In discussions with my wife, the subject of Internet availability came up in the context of “Distance Learning.” In our local school district, tens of thousands of kids will all simultaneously be logging on to their respective Zoom classroom sessions at 8:00 AM on August 13th.

My wife is grateful to be attempting this from home because her school lacks the capacity for teachers to reliably replay YouTube videos, let alone for twenty something teachers to sustain connections to 24 plus children each, all with live video feeds.

Oh, I forgot to mention that over the summer, a plan was put forward that all teachers must live broadcast to their children from their respective classrooms each day. The teacher’s union mercifully killed the idea.

Let’s look at the bandwidth requirements for August 13 and beyond. Much cable and television content as well as streaming in delivered via the Internet. Also, many people are working from home and not their offices. This work is predicated on Internet availability. Now the district here in Elk Grove, and sometime in August every other school in California, will be simultaneously logged in as well.

Much of the Internet is provided by traditional telephone lines or coax cable and not fiber optic lines. Providers such as Comcast have limits as to how much they can push through an old-fashioned strand of copper. Yes, they have figured a way to do this with channels to give short bursts of higher speed based on demand but wow! They just might be sitting on a throttling nightmare or worse. Frontier Communications is shoddier than Comcast and happens to serve many schools as well as customers in more rural or older parts of town. They’re a mess on a good day but I think this will go bad for them too.

Folks Zoom and/or local Internet providers can’t handle the load of teacher training during summertime. People at home didn’t have the bandwidth to support it. Many Zoom meetings for the purpose of training teachers were asking participants to turn off their cameras because the connection kept lagging, and nobody could hear the presentation. Teachers don’t have the luxury of telling students to turn off their cameras. Without being able to see them, how will the teacher be able to gauge comprehension and know when students have a question, etc.

I think my wife is on to something. This distance learning idea may collapse under the weight of too much demand on existing infrastructure. Can you imagine the masses hiding out from Covid-19 without Internet? Gavin would not be able to suppress the masses without the bread and circuses of entertainment provided by the Internet to pacify them.

I know some people think this possibility is far fetched but consider this, again giving credit to my wife; when we did “Distance Learning” during the spring, there were no set times or duration of time required to be online with the children. Furthermore, much if the instruction was via prerecorded video that could be viewed on demand. In other words, instruction was ad hoc in nature. Now the bureaucrats want everything structured and in lockstep order. We have set schedules—all at the same time—and set hours of performance. In other words, ad hoc has been sacrificed for regimentation and uniformity.

Folks, it will be fun to watch but if the wife is right then I may have trouble posting a blog with a told ya so as a topic.

PS: For the sake of the above discussion, we are assuming that Google Classroom and other educational platforms will not be the bottleneck during live instruction.

Sacramento Teachers Screw-over Working Families

By: Chief

Yes, you read that correctly. You are not dreaming but this could be construed as one. (OK, a nightmare is more like it.) Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) decided today that none of the public schools (elementary to high school) can open for in person learning this fall. The teachers polled their members and the response was “overwhelming” that they did not wish to re-open for in person learning, thus distance learning it is. I figure this also includes no sports or athletic clubs for the fall either, as it makes no sense to have in person sports or band while banning in person classes.

What does this mean for sports? I doubt football or any other fall sports happen. The number of mandatory practices required prior to games being played is certainly not happening. This doesn’t bode well for fall sports being rescheduled for play in the spring either. Football games in 90-degree heat on field turf anyone? Just might be a thing of the past.

What does this mean for parents? Well I guess unless their children are junior high or high school aged, you’re doing “take your child to work day” for at least an entire semester. I am not quite sure how this will work as most jobs do not allow for 100% supervision. Take my job for example. I guess they could set up in the breakroom (it would be an invasion of space of my colleagues) and junior could fire up the laptop. Another problem, what happens at 3:00 or so when his school day is over? I am not off until 5. Most children under the age of 17 have the attention span of a gnat, which would make the last 2 hours of my day hell on wheels. What about internet access? At my work some sites (mostly viewed by high school age folks) are blocked, so that won’t help either. What about folks who do not work a desk job like me…. some people work jobs where children are not allowed, or worse it is unsafe for them. I guess they get left at home with little to no supervision. Sadly, some children will never notice the difference as public schools statewide lost track of about 20 percent of their kids once distance learning began last spring.

Oh, instead of putting the burden on parents to educate their children, the Legislature has already mandated that during distance learning, teachers must have live contact with every child on their rolls every day. Surely nothing could go wrong with adult teachers calling your minor children on the telephone when you are not home.

What does this mean for the child? Well long and short of it is zero in person school for nearly an entire calendar year. As you may recall, we shut schools down in March. Young children, especially those in elementary school, need to interact with other human beings, classmates, teachers, etc. in a face-to-face environment. Additionally, when in school, the curriculum provided things in the classroom for students to physically learn, are parents going to be expected to buy those same materials while junior “distance learns?” Folks over 60 who think the millennials and Gen X are bad…. you haven’t seen nothin’ yet. Wait ‘til these broken, dysfunctional, and unnecessarily traumatized children are voting age!

What does this mean for school support staff? If you’re administration then its probably business as usual, maybe a little more paperwork, and zero accountability. For the cafeteria staff, the hot lunch and meal program is still going full bore, so report to work regardless of your thoughts on this. Athletic department staff may be cleaning out their lockers for a while. Custodial and maintenance staff will continue to work as normal. If anyone is interested, the AC units and lights will be left on as usual, wouldn’t want anything to appear out of routine! What about yard duty, counselors, resource teachers, etc.? Some districts like Elk Grove may carry the deadweight but look for Sac City to dump extra baggage as they try to stay afloat.

What about the teachers? They won. They get to keep teaching from the comfort of their homes with full pay and benefits, and zero accountability. They are required to keep attendance records, but frankly don’t expect them to go one iota above and beyond. Sounds like the SAT and ACT are likely going away, and while we are at it, I figure we will take this opportunity to remove all standardized testing prior to the end of the school year. Think this group feels any of your pain? Think again, the teachers in this state are the most self-serving group of people I have ever heard of. The CTA (teachers union) owns this state and all the elected from both parties. Ask a Democrat elected, cross the CTA you will get humiliated in your next re-election run.

Sadly, fellow readers, the teacher’s union has become a microcosm of everything wrong with our country today. Teachers don’t have to teach in person but folks at grocers, Wally World, meat packing plants, and a host of other essential jobs must report to work or else. On the other hand, this merry band of entitled folks can decide to opt-out? Sorry you signed up to be a teacher. If you want the benefits, short workday, quite a few days off, summers off, extra time at Christmas, Spring Break, Thanksgiving, you need to show up to work in the classroom. Maybe if we withhold their salary, their attitude would change. You know, like what would happen to any of us who work in the real world?

I thought it was their job to think about the children. Sadly, there is only one bully on school property and it’s the teacher’s union.

The Chief

PS Hey parents, don’t forget to document your children’s P.E. (physical education) minutes each day so your district can continue to be fully funded. This is the only mandated curriculum in the state of California that must be documented by each school district. Thanks to Governor Arnold.

Americans v Their Government

Americans want to go back to work but their government won’t let them; especially, here in California. Those that think that magic fairies will sprinkle pixie dust on everything, and we will open again in a week or two are in desperate need of recreational pot or something else. Trust me, any shelter in place order that lasts for more than four weeks requires more than the immediate attention of a doctor.

If you want more proof that barring a revolt of the people—which I think has begun—we will still be cowering in fear at the end of the year, here’s another clue for those that have the eyes to see.

The Los Rios Community College District will be moving to a fully online fall schedule due to novel coronavirus concerns, school officials said Monday in a message to staff and students.

Sacramento County college district to move fall classes online

Also, the sage Dr. Fauci poured cold water on the idea of school resuming in the fall. His comments came when questioned by Senator Rand Paul, the only Senator confirmed to have had Corona virus.

Following up on Paul’s question about reopening schools come fall, Fauci said that there is still much that researchers don’t know about the novel coronavirus and the country should not be “cavalier” in reopening institutions too quickly.

“We don’t know everything about this virus … especially when it comes to children,” Fauci said. “We ought to be careful and not cavalier.”

Rand Paul dings Fauci during testimony, tells him ‘you are not the end all’

I know of other schools looking to continue either distance learning only or a hybrid system of part brick and mortar classes and virtual learning. They can see the likelihood of resuming traditional school fading more every week.

Ok, let’s review some other context clues that our elites plan for this to go on for many more months.

Last month, in Los Angeles, the County Supervisors announces that they will not allow any professional sporting events to be done in front of a live audience including NFL Football games.

Also, last month, KOVR TV reported that shelter in place will run thru at least October.

All county fairs and the State Fair are cancelled, again a decision made last month. The last of the county fairs were scheduled for the end of August.

Last week, Governor Newsom decreed that all elections statewide will be conducted by mail-in ballots. Were our voter rolls clean this might not be such a big deal but since we have at least 1.5 million more people registered than we have adult humans in this state that are eligible to vote, it’s promoting a criminal enterprise to make such a declaration. This declaration presupposes that Covid-19 will be here and require people to be protected from it, meaning part if not all the population will still be sheltering in place in November.

Recently, tech companies like Microsoft have stated that all employees will be working from home for at least the next five months or longer. Facebook and Google have decreed that their employees will work from home until early 2021. Twitter has said employees can work from home indefinitely.

Microsoft said that, in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, employees can work from home till October, Facebook and Google went one better and set a deadline no early than 2021, and today Twitter confirmed that employees can work from home as long as they want…

Twitter one-ups Facebook and Google, say employees can work from home indefinitely

Thus the “good” liberal companies in Silicon Valley are aligned with the power elites that are planning for a prolonged siege of the country and its economy. For now, they are allies of Newsom but somehow, I don’t think Hollywood is nearly as willing to follow suit.

Newsom repeats that we will not undo this situation until we have a vaccine, and everybody has been inoculated. There is more certainty that there will never be a vaccine than one will be available in a few months. The fact is that few viruses ever have a vaccine developed for them. Lest you doubt me, try this: Where is the common cold vaccine? Where is the AIDS vaccine? We know that as of two months ago, Covid-19 had 30 different strains and more seem to be in the wild now than then. Also, remember my caution that the vaccine may be just as dangerous as the disease it claims to cure.

The metrics established by the Governor will keep all population centers far from the threshold needed for any meaningful reduction in restrictions. This will go on for months not days or weeks.

Those who think they will find themselves in church anytime soon are dreaming. When services are finally allowed, the meeting size will be limited to 50 people per service and like in Tennessee where Bibles, prayer books, hymnals, bulletins will be banned along with offerings and Communion.

The truth is that many private schools and church congregations will never meet again. I know of several churches and private schools in my county that are on the verge of insolvency. I know of one such institution that is over a million dollars in the hole as a result of the current panic. The fact is that people quit writing checks when they don’t have a job or have their hours are severely cut.

The government has failed us, the faith community is impotent, and that leaves only the people themselves to rise-up and go to work while those waiting for permission cower in their homes as life passes them by.

Willie Brown is correct, if everybody goes back to work, they will flood the zone so much that government will be unable to pull anybody’s license. Piecemeal loses but workers and business owners can act much more swiftly to take back their lives.

Better asking for forgiveness than permission is one economic lesson of life with Covid-19.

EG Schools Might Be Back…Sort Of

After being closed for a good six or seven weeks, the Elk Grove Unified School District is hoping to roll-out another four or five weeks of instruction for this school year. Seems like it took a while to greenlight the concept (this is the third week since the shutdown) and now they are giving teachers an additional month to figure out how to implement the details. The goal is to have the district “go live” with online instruction for the last week of April with all instruction terminating by the end of May. All schedules year round to traditional are included in this new and truncated calendar.

Please note my son’s private school went live (K – 12) with full blown instruction in all classes on their third day following a shutdown. Ditto for many other public-school districts. Why Elk Grove is taking their ever lovin’ sweet time is a mystery. Why they need another month now that they have a plan of action is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, teachers have been given the green light to make suggestions to parents for online resources (which is good) but teachers are still forbidden to continue with any new material for their children (which is bad). I guess the lowest common denominator governs not just the student’s but the teacher’s instruction as well. Sad.

I’m left with many concerns and questions besides the ones I’ve already mentioned. Will the grades count? If so, will they be weighted the same? What about teachers that don’t even know how to check email? (This is not a rhetorical question because a bunch of teachers get stumped when asked to press the “Any Key.”) What about AP classes or special ed classes? Both extremes pose challenges. What if Johnny or his folks want the district to supply the computing device and/or internet access?

The District’s correspondence makes it clear that their relationship with the union comes before the children. No surprise to me. Had they let their principals take the lead, instruction would be happening for most children, but education is a top-down world. This experiment in “Distance Learning” will result in an uneven quality of education; limited by the abilities of the teachers. Hopefully it will encourage a few to either retire or up their tech skills.

Anyway, it looks like my pronouncement of no more school this year, may be proven wrong. Let’s just see what happens. Whether it can be called distance daycare, or entertainment, or education may be in the eye of the beholder.

Corona Virus Triggers Unnecessary Panic

Folks, parts of our cable television watching society are stocking up on antibacterial soap and toilet paper and looking for fallout shelter plans on eBay while the rest of us have purposed just to live our lives. I’m in the latter category.

So, on the first day of a stupid government school shutdown in my community, I’m going on record with a claim that Corona triggers unnecessary panic? Heck yeh! But the market is down 2K just today. So what?

Here’s a few thoughts on the unforced error of cancelling all classes this week in the Elk Grove School District.

In the Saturday release, the Elk Grove School Superintendent claimed he was moving Spring Break to this week, sorry, not happening. Look for the regularly scheduled Spring Break to happen next month in the second week of April. Both parents and teachers are taking off that week regardless of what was claimed in the press release issued on Saturday—much of which was a lie debunked by the Sacramento Bee which I will get to shortly.

You see, many parents scheduled time-off from work just to coordinate with the District’s schedule, buying airline tickets, making hotel reservations, and such long ago. These people will be out the money if they don’t go now. Also, there is that pesky union contract with the District’s teachers stating that the second week in April is the time off for those on both Traditional and Modified Traditional schedules. A reasonable suggestion that I heard from a teacher in the District was that Spring Break will happen as scheduled and a few extra days will be tacked onto the end of the school year. We’ll see if that prediction pans out.

As I’m writing this, a claim has surfaced that one child in the District tested positive. If that’s true, then please tell me what is the metric that children will ever be allowed to return to school? By being arbitrary, this Superintendent has opened a can of worms that he may never get back in the bottle. Just by being in school a child might give an illness to another, this is reality. If this is his metric, how can he ever risk that classes convene again?

The grilling given to the Elk Grove Superintendent by the Sacramento Bee’s Marcos Bretón is priceless.

More shocking. Saturday’s announcement, with such widespread implications, including the possibility of triggering public anxiety and panic, was rolled out with little or no coordination between the county’s public health department or key elected officials in Sacramento, even though a letter to parents Saturday said “this complex decision involved close collaboration and coordination with our Board of Trustees, labor groups, the Sacramento County Office of Education and the Sacramento County Public Health Department.”

If county health officials were communicating with the Elk Grove district all along then that message didn’t get out to county elected officials.

They were all caught flat-footed: Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, the chair of the board this year, learned about the Elk Grove announcement when word of the district closure caused his phone to “blow up.”

Serna was at a campaign event for a colleague in the Arden Arcade area Saturday afternoon when he learned. With him was Sacramento Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan, a doctor, who has spent weeks trying to calm public fears about the coronavirus. With them was Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento.

All of them learned at the same time and without warning.

Closing Elk Grove schools gives a shocking lesson in how not to handle the coronavirus

Serna, Pan, Steinberg and McCarty all huddled together after learning about the Elk Grove announcement from The Bee. Together, they have planned a 1 p.m. news conference on Sunday at the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors offices at 700 H St.

The first question that should be answered there must be this: How could the largest school district in Northern California announce it was shutting its doors in a complete vacuum of information and leadership?

Why is a serious step such as closing a school district trotted out via letter to Elk Grove parents as if the contents of the letter referred to a bake sale and not an issue with serious health and policy implications?

And here is another question: Why would EGUSD, apparently with the OK of county health officials, shut down the entire district when such a drastic step is not recommended by state health officials? By late Saturday, the California Department of Public Health released its guidelines for schools, colleges and large public events to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Nowhere in those recommendations do state officials call for the closure of a district without a single student or staff member testing positive for COVID-19. And up until now, there hasn’t been an EGUSD student or staff member who has tested positive. State health officials only contemplate closing an entire district if there have been students, teachers or staff members who have tested positive at multiple schools in a district.

But entities such as EGUSD can’t simply act without consideration for how the decision will affect a general public already jittery about the coronavirus.

As Steinberg said, Sacramento County must have a coordinated message. They need protocols. Stories of this import cannot simply be dropped like a stink bomb in the dark.

But maybe if it hadn’t been made in such a vacuum someone could have helped the Elk Grove educators make this call in a way that didn’t seem premature and haphazard.

Panic is what happens when a health crisis is mismanaged and when people who should be in the loop are not. This is not the way it should be done.

Marcus is right on this issue. (As always, I’ve quoted him extensively because this article will soon find its way behind McClatchy’s pay firewall.) Marcus, “stink bomb” is a much politer term than the ones I’m thinking of right now.

Since this opinion piece was posted, the high school boys’ basketball game is rumored to get an exemption, while the high school prom last Saturday night was killed five hours before it was scheduled to begin; off district property I might add.

Perhaps educators should try staying in their lane and let public health officials do their job. That might actually be refreshing. A coordinated response is needed not arbitrary nonsense. Panicking and then telling others that you didn’t is disingenuous and harmful; especially when your actions affect thousands of people and millions of dollars. Elk Grove’s Superintendent needs to be fired, but it won’t happen until summer just so he and the District can save face.

Folks, the Corona virus fears will blow over and the stock market will recover. These issues are just distractions to keep folks on the 24-hour news channels employed. Both of these issues will be in the country’s rearview mirror before long and they’ll go on to some other story while we that live in Elk Grove deal with the aftermath of this out of control bureaucrat.

Elk Grove Schools Cry “Wolf”

At noon today, Saturday, March 7, 2020, the Elk Grove School District informed teachers that due to fears of the Corona Virus, all classes in the entire District are cancelled the week of March 9.

Lest you think that was enough, Monday has now been declared as “Spring Break.” The District says there is nothing to fear. Really? So way are classes cancelled? Why, in the middle of a weekend, did you move Spring Break up one month?

Here’s the publicly released letter to parents.

03-07-2020-Community-Letter

Oh, rumor mill amongst teachers is that Sacramento Unified has also done likewise.

Ok, so one family might test positive and the whole county is on indefinite lockdown. Please note in the above letter, they reserve the right to cancel classes indefinitely. Again, this is not Ebola. Somebody is watching way too much cable news.

Be True to Your School…Or Else

Back in the 1960’s, the Beach Boys admonished us to be true to your school. As a youth, I thought this song was about cheering for the football team and supporting your community. Boy was I wrong.

It turns out to be much more serious than that. If you thought being true to your school is what I thought, don’t go to Wisconsin. Such a casual view of school can get you thrown in jail. Say the wrong thing and you’re in legal jeopardy. No, really.

Anyone who delivers a speech at an event hosted by the school district in Appleton, Wisconsin, must submit the speech in advance and then swear under oath they will not deviate from the script. And that includes students.


“The opportunity to speak at a school event is a privilege, not a right,” the Appleton Area School District wrote in a statement.

The new guidelines require all speakers, including students, to submit their entire speech in writing two weeks in advance of delivery.

Speakers are also not permitted to wear “jewelry, clothing or accessories that reasonably could be understood to communicate a message to the audience when the speech is given.”

School Board member Rev. Alvin Dupree

But the swearing of an oath is perhaps the most disturbing part of Appleton’s crackdown on free speech.


“Speakers that submit proposed speeches shall be required to certify that they will deliver the speech as written, except for minor and immaterial variances from the text of their proposal,” the district wrote. “Certification shall be in writing and shall be sworn under oath.”

The oath must be signed by student and adult speakers and must be witnessed and sealed by a notary.


The oath states, among other things, “that I am affirming the statements to be true and correct under penalty of law.”

Christian Crackdown? Students Must Submit Speeches, Swear Oath to School

Lest you had any doubts about this draconian policy…

Their new policies and procedures are meant to silence people of faith – specifically Christians.

Why did the district do this?

The new regulations were implemented after a Christian school-board member invoked the name of Jesus Christ during a graduation ceremony last June.

Submit or else you’ll get worse

Oh how terrible. And worst yet, this school board member had the gall adlib his prepared remarks by deviating from the script. He “told students to ‘never succumb to the pressure of being politically correct’”. “He also changed the district’s prepared statement of ‘best wishes’ to God bless.’

The article ends with this controversial endorsement of the US Constitution and the First Amendment.

Every freedom-loving American should be appalled by the actions of the Appleton Area School District.


Heaven forbid the day comes when an American teenager or a pastor is dragged off the stage by security forces simply for uttering the name of Jesus Christ at a graduation ceremony.

To which I can only add a hearty and appropriate, “AMEN.”

Original article can be found here.

Field Trip: California Academy of Sciences

Yesterday, I got to drive a car full of kids to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The drive each way was three hours; remarkably, that’s using the car pool lane otherwise it would have taken much longer.

For the trip, I figured that I would use Google Maps instead of my car’s navigation system since cities like San Francisco and Sacramento like to arbitrarily change the direction of one-way streets and add random bike lanes where cars once freely roamed. I figured, if there was an area that Google had down cold, it would be the highways and byways of their own backyard. Sadly, my experience was less than satisfactory. Things were OK until I got in San Francisco and then, when I needed it, Google failed. Twice when going down the highway (I-80 and then Highway 101), Google suddenly put me on surface streets just because I did a lane change. Worst of all, when exiting 101, it was totally messed up and kept rerouting me to get me lined-up to head west on surface streets towards Golden Gate Park.

Finally, we turned from John F Kennedy Drive to Nancy Pelosi Drive and got our first look at our destination.

Folks, in principle, I hate anything named after individuals that are still alive. Lots of people start well and finish life poorly. I’m speaking in generalities and being very charitable in this instance. I think the filter of history needs to weigh a person’s life before naming public places (or holidays) after them. This is not a slam on just Pelosi but my town of Elk Grove as well. Elk Grove is constantly naming parks and schools after living people. My reaction on hearing the name of the street (Nancy Pelosi) was mirrored by one of my son’s friend that verbalized my feelings. Folks, knowing that the boundaries of the museum are in part defined by invoking Nancy Pelosi’s name, is what is known in literature as foreshadowing.

The California Academy of Sciences is a composite of different areas under one roof. For one price you get access to an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum. I have seen better displays elsewhere but for northern California, it is a respectable assembly of experiences in one place.

Steinhart Aquarium

The Steinhart Aquarium—which used to be a standalone attraction—is the best part of the museum. It is a fraction of the size of the Monterey Bay Aquarium but does boast an impressive display of mature freshwater fishes including some trophy sized arapaima.

River Monster sizes arapaima

The largest saltwater tank is supposed to be representative of a reef system in the Philippines; however, I doubt its authenticity. As it happens, I have scuba dived in the Philippines and many fish that I frequently saw while diving were missing from the display.

Philippines reef display

Also strangely absent from the displays were sharks. In many of the smaller salt water tanks, I saw algae and other things indicative of poor water quality. I think there is room for improvement in this area. This is one area that Monterey Bay beats all others since they take water directly out of the sea and don’t have to recycle and extensively tinker with water chemistry.

Osher Rainforest

The Osher Rainforest is supposed to represent a generic rainforest. It is housed in a Plexiglas bubble structure with a pathway through it. You walk up several levels from the ground to the tops of the trees. The most predominant feature is the assortment of butterflies. Also, you will notice various tropical birds. The exhibit is kept humid compared to the outside air but it’s not really as humid as a tropical region (otherwise my glasses would have instantly fogged over). Various small insects are displayed as you go thru the display including beetles, ants, etc. Signs also make mention of the roles of elephants and apes in such an environment. Of course there are also signs claiming that the Amazon rainforest is in danger due to human activity like logging and agriculture.

Morrison Planetarium

The Morrison Planetarium can seat several hundred people. Sadly, we didn’t see a show about the stars but instead a film about oceans. The film was Expedition Reef. This film is completely computer generated. It begins at the Philippine reef display at the aquarium and then does a reverse angle to reveal the open sea in all its CGI glory. The production is stunning except for one small problem, the sea doesn’t look anything like it does in the film. Folks 4K photography can’t really capture the brilliance of the undersea adventure let alone the limitations of CGI. The colors and lighting of this film was more akin to diving just after sunset than in broad daylight. The scope of seeing it on the planetarium screen was reminiscent of an IMAX presentation.

Below is a summary of the film’s content.

Narrated by Tony Award® winner Lea Salonga, the all-digital Expedition Reef takes full advantage of the Morrison Planetarium’s fulldome screen to immerse you in the undersea adventure. Along the way, discover how corals grow, feed, reproduce, and support over 25% of all marine life on Earth—while facing unprecedented threats from climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing.


“This is a difficult story [and] a turning point for reefs,” says Academy scientist and reef expert Dr. Rebecca Albright, “but it’s not too late.”

Expedition Reef

Folks, while much of the usual Darwin and millions of years was missing from many of the displays, radical environmentalism was front and center of this whole place. The centerpiece of this worldview was this film at the museum. In it we are told that we need to stop using plastic, synthetic materials for clothing, and reduce CO2 emissions amongst other things. As always, we are told that by some arbitrary date in the future, in this case 2050, it will be too late.

The plastic waste in the seas was presented as being all our fault because of our lifestyle even though most of the trash in the world’s oceans is from Asian countries.

In 2015, a study published in the journal Science sought to discover where exactly all of this garbage is coming from. According to the researchers, the discarded plastics and other debris floats eastward out of countries in Asia from six primary sources: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In fact, the Ocean Conservancy reported that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dump more plastic in the sea than all other countries combined. China alone is responsible for 30% of worldwide plastic ocean pollution.

Great Pacific garbage patch

Also, this film neglects that the plastic in the ocean is serving as impromptu coral reefs with millions of creatures including juvenile fish living in their midst. In fact these trash zones have their own unique ecosystems.

Imagine you’re on a small boat in the middle of the open ocean, surrounded by what looks like a raft of plastic. Now flip the whole world upside down. You remain comfortably attached to your seat—the abyss towers above you, and all around, stretching up from the water’s surface, is an electric-blue meadow of life. What you thought was plastic is actually a living island. This meadow is made up of a diverse collection of animals. The most abundant are blue buttons and by-the-wind sailors, with bright-blue bodies that dot the sky like suns, and deep-purple snails found in patches so dense one scientist described collecting more than 1,000 in 20 minutes.


This is the neuston, a whole ecosystem living at the ocean’s surface. I once stumbled upon a raft of neuston when a storm blew it ashore in California. Many neustonic animals are vibrant highlighter colors, and the sand was saturated in bright blues and pale pinks. Together, these small creatures may function like upside-down coral reefs: an oasis of shelter and life far out to sea. As far back as the Cold War era, scientists were describing these colorful and important ecosystems, yet they still remain all but unknown. But now, as efforts to clean the ocean of plastic start up, our ignorance is putting this ecosystem at risk.


The neuston is home to more than blue buttons and bright snails. Erupting through the lawn of blue are crackling purple, red, gold, and yellow strands. These are Portuguese man o’ wars, whose tentacles stretch like lightning from the meadows of blue and pink. And among them, dragons roam.


Small nudibranchs, known as blue sea dragons, feast on blue buttons and man o’ wars, using their winglike cerata to grab and hold onto their tentacled prey. There are sea anemones, barnacles, copepods, color-changing crabs, specialized bacteria, even bugs, all living in this inverted reef in the middle of the open ocean. (Organisms that live exclusively by floating at the surface of the water are called pleuston, while neuston is a broader term, referring generally to the sea-surface ecosystem, which is why I chose to use it here.)


Just like reefs on the seafloor, this ecosystem does not stand apart from the open ocean around it. The neuston is a nursery for multiple species of larval fish and a hunting ground for paper nautilus octopuses. It supports sunfish, leatherback turtles, and diverse ocean grazers, which frequent these islands, relying on them as a food source. At night, soft-bodied jellies rise up to join the neuston, sparkling like fireflies. But all of this, from the blue sea dragons to the by-the-wind sailors, is in peril.


When I learned about the Ocean Cleanup project’s 600-meter-long barrier with a three-meter-deep net, a wall being placed in the open ocean, ostensibly to collect plastic passively as the currents push water through the net, I thought immediately of the neuston. How will it be impacted? But in the 146 pages of the Ocean Cleanup’s environmental-impact assessment, this ecosystem isn’t mentioned once.


I was disturbed by this omission. Though the neuston isn’t known to many people, it is certainly known to marine biologists. Evidence that the Ocean Cleanup knows about the neuston is clear from a table reporting animals in the vicinity of the Ocean Cleanup deployment area, where both blue buttons and by-the-wind sailors are listed. But the ecosystem itself is never discussed. By omitting the neuston from its assessment, the project is overlooking the habitat it could be impacting most, and there is no sense of what the damage might be.

How Plastic Cleanup Threatens the Ocean’s Living Islands
Blue sea dragon from article above

We were told in the film not to wash our clothes because doing so introduces microscopic plastic fibers into the water. We are also told in the film that plastic can never truly be removed from the environment once introduced into the water which is false.

Did you know that microscopic critters are actually eating and dissolving the plastic?

Many flourishing microbes appear to interact with the plastic surfaces we examined. These observations, together with findings from previous studies, suggest that microbes are helping to break down plastics at sea. This could be another explanation for the less-than-expected level of plastic pollution at surface waters.


Plastic-eating microbes may also support biotechnological solutions for better plastic waste disposal practices on land. Perhaps in the future, we may come up with industrial “composts” that can break down our plastic waste.

Creatures living on tiny ocean plastic may be cleaning our seas

Living Roof

This radical environmental theme is found throughout the museum but the film, Expedition Reef, is the centerpiece of the message. Second only to the film is the “Living Roof.” I found this quite hypocritical given the construction materials used in the building. The Living Roof is described as:

Our living roof is more than beautiful—it’s the heart of the Academy. Weather stations on the roof monitor wind, rain, and changes in temperature to help inform the building’s automated systems and skylights, keeping rainforest temps just right, the interior piazza cool and comfortable, and natural light streaming to the exhibits below.


Edged by solar panels, the roof’s seven hills are lined with 50,000 porous, biodegradable vegetation trays made from tree sap and coconut husks. An estimated 1.7 million plants fill the trays, their roots interlocking to create an extraordinary oasis for birds, insects, people, and other creatures.

Living Roof

The Power of Green


The Living Roof provides excellent insulation (reducing energy needs for heating and cooling), captures 100% of excess storm water (preventing runoff from carrying pollutants into the ecosystem), and transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen—just for starters.

Sounds really green right? Only problem is that the living roof is only possible because it is coated with polystyrene and other petroleum based materials which allow the roof to be inches thick on top of a concrete roof. Only because of the plastics used can the roof absorb rain water, retain moisture, not leak, and give enough anchor points for the roots so plants can grow.

As with any other modern structures, the building is built of Plexiglas, steel, and concrete. Yes it’s certified as a “green” building but only because of these materials and a host of petroleum based products used in things like solar cells, wiring, plastic piping, and various displays.

Given their radical environmental posture, it makes me wonder why plastic is ok for them and not us. Lest you think I was alone in perceiving a double standard, the students in my car noted the plastic waste in the museum’s food areas as contrary to their message.

Natural History Museum

Scattered in various places were displays collectively known as the Natural History Museum. At the entrance to the building is a plastic or fiberglass reproduction of a T-Rex skeleton along with the obligatory plaque touting the millions of years old party line.

A section dedicated to the continent of Africa also has a brief mention of human evolution on one wall and various displays of taxidermied animals. No other continent had its own display area. Also, there is a section dedicated to mammals that live in the Pacific Ocean. Whales and sea otters made up much of this portion. A docent was allowing people to see pieces of whale baleen.

FYI The docents that I spoke to were all nice and willing to talk about their subject areas with visitors.

Conclusion

The radical environmental message needs to be countered by parental discussion. I’ve provided you with at least a few resources in the discussion above to counter some claims made environmentalists. None of us is in favor of trashing the planet but saying it’s all my fault because I happen to live in the United States is disingenuous. As stated elsewhere on this blog, our recycling scheme is broken and needs a private sector solution.

This Gaia worship is wrapped in scientific sounding jargon but don’t surrender to this false religion. God has put man in charge of the planet while the view portrayed at the California Academy of Sciences is that man is the cancer that plagues the planet. A proper Christian worldview would go a long way towards fixing our understanding of this issue. Over time, I think that will happen but not by following the environmentalist religion but by the Gospel permeating the world and bringing into subjugation every area of life to the authority of God’s Word.

If you make the trip to Golden Gate Park during the week, allow plenty of time to drive and expect to spend much on bridge tolls, parking, and food. Not counting the admission tickets, I think I spent about $120 for my son and I to participate in this outing. Truthfully, if you can; go to Monterey Bay Aquarium instead. The food on Cannery Row is world class and the aquarium is better.

Lastly, remember my pet peeve about naming things after people that are still alive, when did the Bay Bridge get renamed the Willie L Brown Jr. Bridge?